BIKE!! Where? Smash! **!! Watch out for bikes- pedestrians and drivers! They are the kings of the road. If you knock someone off their bike you are in big trouble, even if it wasn't your fault! Drivers should be very careful at roundabouts because there are bike lanes on them too. Crossing the road can be dangerous if you do not look properly. They sometimes don't bother with lights. You have been warned.
CYCLING IS INFECTIOUS;-)According to the Official Dutch Travel site, no city on the planet has more bikes per capita or is more bike-friendly than Amsterdam.Statistically I have been told there are more miles of bike trails than auto roads in Holland.You will see cyclists EVERYWHERE and bikes parked almost on top of one another in some of the more popular places in the city center.Its a bone fide and acceptable form of transportation...and the last time I was visited there were pickup and dropoff points that allowed you to use a bike for FREE..GRATIS...LIBRE..give it a shot you can see tons more in a day with less fatigue on a bike.
Watch out for cyclists they are everywhere,do not take photos of the ladies in the window, you or your camera could end up in the canal and do not expect to get a luggage locker at CS on a Saturday in the summer
Watch out for them bicycles - they're all old granny types and they are silent, and will eventually knock you into a canal. And if you walk around out of your head for a while, you will inevitably fall into a canal. Drivers regularly drive in too. In fact there are more cars in the canals than on the roads. if you wondered why cars are outnumbered here, this is your reason.
Bikes and bikers. For two reasons:
Local bikers (yep, that's me, for example). There seem to be no traffic rules applying to bikers. They speed unexpectedly out of every street, ringing their bell (if they're decent..). Take care: you might be walking on the bike-lane (especially near Westerkerk and Museumplein this is not always very clear)!
Rent-a-bikers (that might be you). These are pretty dangerous to local bikers. Officially you should stick out an arm to indicate you are about to make a turn. Nobody does, except for rent-a-bikers. I was smashed of my bike nearly one time.. On the other hand: renting a bike is fun. Make sure to cross the tram-way at a large angle to the rails! You could get stuck. And the sad part of the story: not many will tell about it!
In Holland roads bikes have the right on everybody and everything, usually they run on dedicated places at the side of roads, but it can happen that you find them on normal roads, specially in city center, so pay attention and watch carefully.
There is a lot of traffic in Amsterdam with cars and scooters zipping round corners all the time. But the more dangerous hazard are the bicycles! There are bike lanes everywhere and they are well used. You might think you've got across a street safely but look down, if you're in a bike lane, marked with pinkish red paint/pavement, get out of there quick! The bikers seem to come up on you so quickly and often don't ring their warning bells until they're almost on top of you. Of course you don't hear them coming since there's no engine or motor. You really do have to be careful!
Always aware of bikers while you walk, don't walk on their path. Especially when you cross the streets look both sides. So many bikes and some don't respect to the signals... I didn't bike there but in my opinion biking is a little bit hectic looking... If you are not an experienced biker i do not recommend.
I'm a local and I ride my bike daily through the Amsterdam City Center, and I have some tips for tourists and out-of-towners:
A) Unlike most cities, Amsterdam has dedicated bicycle paths that are easily identifiable by the bicycle painted on the road surface. The bicycle paths are for cyclists only! Walking on the bicycle paths marks you instantly as a [stupid] tourist.
B) Amsterdam has a lot of one-way streets, but most of them are only one-way for cars [and sometimes motorcycles], which means that you still have to look BOTH ways when crossing a one-way street in Amsterdam, because bicycles can come from BOTH sides.
C) Amsterdam has laws that protect the weaker traffic participants, so in an accident between a motorized vehicle and a bicycle, the motorized vehicle gets all the blame, unless they can proof that the cyclist disregarded all the rules. This makes driving a vehicle in Amsterdam incredibly risky, because a bicycle can come from any direction and you'll be blamed for any accidents, even when they're not your fault. By the way, a testimony by your passengers is often regarded immaterial by the police.
D) If you're staying in Amsterdam for several days, or if you visit Amsterdam regularly, don't rent a bike. Yellowbikes yellow frames and MacBikes red frames immediately mark you as a tourist. Instead, go to a bicycle shop and ask for a secondhand bicycle. There are loads for sale, ranging from 25-150 euros, depending on the type [regular, ATB, racing] and amount of gears. Don't choose a bicycle with more than three gears - Amsterdam is mostly flat, so you won't need more than three to cruise comfortably. Don't buy a bicycle on the street, they're most likely stolen and if you get caught you're not only perpetuating bicycle theft, but the bike will be impounded by the police and you will get a steep fine.
E) If you ride a bicycle in Amsterdam, keep to the right. Don't weave all over the road like a drunken monkey. If you want to gawk at something, don't do it while riding. And get yourself a heavy padlock and a length of industrial cable so you can lock your bike to lampposts and bridge railings. Make sure your cable never (accidentally) ties up another bicycle, because the police will cut your chain/cable and impound your bicycle.
F) Don't ride on the sidewalks. Yes, I know you will see some cyclists ride the sidewalk, but it is prohibited and the police will fine you if they catch you. To talk your way out of a ticket, you have to speak fluent Dutch and be very persuasive. So keep to the bicycle paths, or if they are absent, keep to the utmost right on the main roads.
G) Be extremely wary of mopeds! Most mopeds and scooters ride as irresponsible as cyclists, only faster. And since they're heavier than a bike, the crashes often result in more damage.
This is true all over Amsterdam, but especially around the Old Center, be aware of bikes. It almost seems safe because the traffic is all the way in the middle lanes, but there are many bike riders in Amsterdam, and they approach quickly in the bike lanes. Many times you will hear a "ding, ding" from a bike rider trying to warn you that they are coming. I tried to be very aware of this, but I still found myself almost walking out in front of bikes a few times.
Further to my previous entry re bicycles. Don't stand in their way expecting them to try and avoid you. The local tradition is for pedestrians to get out of the way and allow the bike to make progress. I come from the UK where they aren't even allowed on to the pavement and it came as a complete shock to me. I spent the first couple of hours hot under the collar thinking that they had all taken some sort of contract out on my life. It wasn't until a near death experience that one of the riders explained the local practise. Take care!!
If you rent a bike in Amsterdam, make sure youalways lock it up. I'm not sure if it is a scam, but about 100,000 bikes are stolen a year in Amsterdam. The odd thing is there is only 200,000 of them. And, if you get a rental bike stolen the will slap you with a 500 euro fee. I would be willing to bet if you go back the next week the same bike that was solen will be there.
Be very careful as you wander around the streets of Amsterdam! Cycling is a very economical and popular way for locals and travellers alike to get around the city, and the bike paths are right next to the pavement. I strongly advise you to keep away from the bike path, as they will not slow down. We had countless close calls whilst we were there, so just be careful!
In a city with 600,000 bikes, is it any wonder that bike theft is the number one crime.
Always remember to double lock your bike. If you rent one, it will have a mounted lock for the rear wheel, and a heavy chain and lock to secure the front wheel and frame to an immovable object - such as a street light.
Really do watch out for those bikes! They're everywhere, and stop for nothing nor nobody. Always have your wits about you, and remember bikes aren't as easy to hear as cars. If you see one coming, jump out of the way, and fast (hopefully not into the path of another)!